AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200
AKE "Stealth" Bluetooth
Intercom 200 Review
by HBC for webBikeWorld.com
Related Reviews: AKE
BT Multi-Interphone |
| AKE PowerCom
INNOVA | AKE
Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Page |
Motorcycle Intercom Page |
2010 Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Comparison and Final Report
The AKE Stealth Intercom
Set 200 is not a heavyweight -- figuratively or literally --
but it is fully functional, easy to use and it stands up well
against newer systems.
Upside: Simple, clean design; small component size.
The intercoms have a low profile when mounted externally, and
they can also be hidden inside the helmet. The intercoms are
efficient and have strong Bluetooth pairing and sound quality.
Downside: Low-power intercom with range limitations.
One half of the system (the 201i module) has limited functionality.
The controls can be difficult to access depending on location.
Price is relatively high.
If classic styling, simplicity, reliability and a discrete
installation really counts, then the AKE Stealth Intercom Set
200 Bluetooth system is worth a look.
Ever since completing
the original AKE communications system articles (see links above
and in right column) over the winter of 2007/2008 with publication
in April 2008, I have wanted to get my hands on some of the
newer Bluetooth components produced by the company.
With an early-winter offer from the AKE representative in
Germany to provide their
AKE BT Multi-Interphone
Intercom (review) for an evaluation, the opportunity to
get an updated version of the Bluetooth Helmet Set 200 system
was seized. The original
Set 101 reviewed in April 2008 had been very impressive,
but it did not provide A2DP compatibility, a feature now found
in the 200 version.
So late last year (yes, it has been that long), a package
was received by the Editor and after a photo session, he sent
everything down to Florida where I was: a.) Getting away
from a (very mild) winter in the Ottawa Valley and; b.)
Shivering in the cold along with everyone else in the southern
U.S. at that time.
I didnít get everything hoped for -- in theory leaving something
for future reviews -- but the components provided are the minimum
many users would be looking for in a basic helmet system, including
a basic communications capability.
In the Box
The AKE Stealth 200
kit consists of a pair of very small, very lightweight and very
modular Bluetooth helmet communication systems for a single
rider, arider with a passenger or for bike-to-bike communications.
As mentioned above, the Stealth Intercom Set 200 is actually
comprised of two physically identical but functionally different
Bluetooth modules: the Bluetooth Stealth Helmet Set 201 and
the Bluetooth Helmet Set 201i, where the 'I' identifies the
In summary, the 201 module is the primary unit useable as
a stand-alone Bluetooth helmet system while the 201i is a dedicate
intercom for the passenger or second rider. Besides the modules,
the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200 set is also packaged
with the following:
Helmet loudspeakers (standard)
Helmet microphone (boom or thin-wire
Protective cases for modules
Accessory bag with spiral cables
and mounting items
Contents of the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom Set 200
The package I received only had one protective bag, so a
second one found its way to me via Bundespost from Germany.
The AKE representative also coordinated the shipment of additional
spiral (flex) extender cables, along with two North American
style battery chargers, from Cohesive Technology, their U.S.
Like the original
(review) the updated Bluetooth module is slightly curved
(to match the typical curve of a helmet shell) and measure 19
mm wide x 116 mm long and 5 mm thick. The actual weight is 20
grams. The battery is really diminutive, measuring 20 mm x 40
mm x 5 mm and just barely tipping the scales at five grams.
size and modularity of the system makes installation in -- or
on -- most helmets a relatively simple effort. The unique feature
of the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200 set is that the units
can also be installed inside the helmet for the "Stealth"
Mounting the AKE 200 intercoms in the usual location on the
outside of the helmet is accomplished by using the supplied
hook-and-loop fasteners. Plastic casings are provided with the
kit, which can be used to protect the externally mounted intercom
units from the elements. The casings are then secured to the
outside of the helmet with the provided fasteners.
But here's an unusual twist: the intercom units can also
be installed inside the helmet, thus the "Stealth"
name. In fact, the AKE 200 Bluetooth modules are really meant
to be installed under the neck roll of the helmet if possible.
Space permitting, the system really does then become "stealthy"
and in fact, totally invisible, as I discovered with my
Arai Corsair (review) and
Arai XD3 (review) helmet installations. A weekend show-and-tell
at a local dealer event proved the attractiveness of this approach
over and over again with much interest from local motorcyclists.
The AKE 200 speakers can also be easily mounted in the designated
speaker locations of the
Nolan N103 (review) helmet, resulting in optimal placement.
The thin wire of the microphone can be mounted to the chin section
of the rotating visor on the N103 with a mini spiral cable bridging
the gap between the open and closed visor. Alternatively, the
boom microphone of the AKE 200 intercom sits securely in the
boom mic pocket that is molded into the N103 as part of the
Nolan N-Com system.
I put the AKE 200 module into one of the protective bags
(a tight fit) and used the supplied hook-and-loop tabs to secure
the bag to the bottom plastic trim of the helmet. The buttons
on the intercom are still easily manipulated through the clear
plastic face of the bag. Both the wiring and the AKE 2000 battery
can then be tucked inside the helmet shell.
A few changes
have taken place since I originally reported on the
system; maybe some of our constructive criticisms were taken
The tactile pressure (membrane) controls on the AKE 200 units
have a deeper recess, while the charging port and charger connector
are now coaxial, making them sturdier and more positive to use
than the original snap-button connector.
The whole is truly a sum of the modular parts. The main module
harness has five mini-connector leads, all clearly marked and
colour coded. Yellow for Left and Right speakers; Red for the
battery; Blue for the microphone (either thin wire or boom style);
and Black for an optional remote control connection.
My positive commentary on this design approach is that it
makes replacement or upgrading of components simple and, equally
important, allows a system to be properly mounted in virtually
any type of helmet. In markets where dual speakers or the use
of stereo devices is not allowed or desired, then only one speaker
need be connected to the AKE 200 intercom module.
Differences Between the AKE 201 and 201i
Each Stealth Bluetooth 201 Helmet
Set module is multi-functional and meant to be paired with compatible
Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones, navigation devices
and audio players. They support the Headset, Hands-free and
A2DP Bluetooth profiles.
The Stealth Bluetooth 201i module is more singular of purpose.
It supports the Headset profile and in theory can be paired
with all (AKE) Bluetooth headsets or Bluetooth helmet sets that
use the standard headset profile.
the application of some innovative technology has resulted in
significantly increased operating ranges for this system which
is only rated as a Bluetooth Class Two power device. So how
well does this technology work - quite well actually.
With the nominal range of Class Two devices (between the
headset and paired devices) normally in the order of 10 to 15
metres (33 to 49 feet), the Helmet Set 200 actually works up
to 100 metres or 328 feet -- spectacular performance from such
a low-powered system and thus making it viable for use as a
rider-to-rider communications system.
AKE Stealth Intercom 200 wiring harness (L). Small battery
Pairing the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom
For the most part, all of the newer
motorcycle Bluetooth intercom systems are absolutely stone simple
to operate and ultra reliable.
As expected, the AKE Bluetooth does not disappoint. Pairing
the 201 module with anything is done "right now" and
it never seems to forget its pairing partners, unlike certain
other major systems evaluated recently.
My basic test suite of Bluetooth-enabled devices or peripherals
that I use for all my communications system evaluations and
for daily use is as follows:
Bluetooth Adapters (BTA):
AKE BTD-302 Audio Adapter, iCombi AG 12, iCombi AP 21, Camos
BH-200M (stereo and mono), Alan BPA 100 (mono), wiREVO D1000
and Rocket Fish MBT30
Mobile Phones: Multi-function
HTC Touch and Kyocera X-tc devices and the more basic LG500,
LG LX165 and Motorola i335 mobile phones.
Garmin zumo 550, zumo 660, zumo 665 and the venerable BMW
This collection is a good cross-section of devices, old and
new, that helps to put a specific motorcycle intercom or communications
system through its paces
For me, communications is key, so the two modules got paired
up first. From Off, hold the 201 Multifunction button eight
seconds until the Red/Blue LEDs begin to flash alternatively.
Now power up the 201i module the same way; its Red/Blue sequence
will be a bit faster.
The two AKE modules communicate almost instantly, where they
negotiate and form a partnership and, as indicated by a single
tone in the 201 headset, the intercom connection becomes live.
Pairing the AKE 200 Intercom System:
Cell Phones, MP3 Players, GPS
For navigation devices,
put the 201i in pairing mode from Off and initiate pairing mode
on the navigation device. The first device up was my new zumo
665. Discovery is seemingly instantaneous and three seconds
later the zumo found the "AKE Stealth HS201".
Tapping "OK" on the zumoís screen provides the
final incentive for the two devices to pair and the consequence
being an audio stream pushed to the headset.
The zumo 660 and 665 devices stream mono navigation audio
to the headset and stereo audio when the onboard media player
is activated. The zumo 550 works just as well, but in mono of
course, as does the Navigator III+ although it is limited to
Even my aging and cranky HTC Touch was no match for the 201
headset; the two devices paired up on a quick first pass and
from here it was a simple matter to verify that both Wireless
Stereo and Hands-free profiles were being supported (they were).
This done, activating the media player resulted in John Denverís
Rocky Mountain High being streamed into the hi-fi headset
in perfect stereo, with more than a hint of bass. I had forgotten
just how good the standard 40 mm AKE headsets are. The optional
High-Sound items would be even better.
For optimum configuration efficiency it is good to spend
a few minutes thinking of how the system and peripherals will
be used. In my case, pairing a multi-function device like the
HTC Touch directly to the headset is both efficient and effective;
the two devices will negotiate which profile is available (used)
depending on the active function -- phone, music, etc.
If a basic mobile phone is used along with a navigation device
like the zumo 660 or 665, that device hosts the phone with control
provided by the phone application on the navigation device.
This allows the multi-function navigation device to be the principle
peripheral for navigation, music and phone audio.
So like most good modern Bluetooth headset systems, the 201
headset supports two simultaneous pairings with different protocols
and switches between them based on system priority -- phone/navigation
device, (intercom) and media player.
Bluetooth Adapters for Non-Bluetooth Devices
Bluetooth adapters or BTAs are great little devices that increase
connection options. For Apple device users, the Rocket Fish
MBT30 and the
Chatterbox iCombi AP21 Bluetooth adapter (review) both work
fine with the iPod Classic.
For what it's worth, I removed the thin plastic frame from
the top of the AP21 housing: this exposes the multi-pin connector
fully making it useable with more iPod devices.
The AKE BTD 302 Bluetooth Music Transmitter,
Chatterbox iCombi AG 12 (review) and
Camos BH-200M (review) all paired up and pushed stereo audio
to the headset without intervention.
Alan (Albrecht) BPA 100 (review), which has been reluctant
to work with other newer systems, worked fine with the 201 module
-- albeit in mono only and activated via the Multifunction button.
Finally, the 200 module and the wiREVO D1000 Bluetooth Adapter
that I use with the
wiREVO S300 Bluetooth stereo headset (review) discover each
other and seemingly connect, but no audio stream is initiated.
"Stealth" means hiding the intercom unit inside the helmet (L). Speaker
AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200 - Intercom
Given the low power output, the intercom
works extremely well. Just remember that signal optimization
(range and quality) is gained by mounting the module under or
on the side of the helmet rather than the back.
With power output and antenna efficiency being two critical
issues with wireless systems, heeding manufacturer recommendations
regarding installation is typically a good thing.
A short press of the 201 Multifunction button initiates a
session in two seconds. Audio is crystal clear thanks to the
excellent speakers and the booster circuitry. The noise-compensating
microphone works extremely well in removing ambient noise during
Unfortunately, the individual wearing the 201i equipped helmet
is limited to intercom audio only. Only the main 201 unit can
initiate or terminate an intercom session and the 201i, as the
add-on module cannot pair with or support any other Bluetooth
The intercom is best used at separations of less than 100
metres (328 feet) and as with most Bluetooth systems range is
highly dependent on surroundings. Riding through built-up areas
and residential streets brings effective reliable range down
to 60 to 75 metres (196 to 246 feet) maximum. For many users
and based on prudent rider-to-rider separation, this is likely
more than adequate.
If intercom range is exceeded, the module (201) searches
for and then re-connects to the 201i when the devices are within
range of each other. This works seamlessly with only the usual
very low and unobtrusive white noise typically announcing restoral.
Very small battery can be hidden inside the helmet,
while the thin intercom unit hides under the neck roll.
The Functional View
its "Stealth" design (low profile and minimal interaction),
the system is really simple to use: turn it on, wait for a pairing
connection and adjust the volume as needed.
Only the basic controls are provided; ; large Multifunction
button sits on the left side of the face with the Volume Down
and Volume Up buttons oriented to the right side.
Everything is recessed (counter-sunk), including the three
small status LEDs positioned to the right of the Multifunction
button. The three user buttons are just slightly higher than
the surface for tactile purposes. By the same token, when wearing
any type of gloves other than thin rubber, the controls are
difficult to manipulate.
This is fine when the module is stashed away under the back/side-guard
of the helmet or encased in the protective housing, but it really
detracts from (any) required interaction. So unless the controls
can be accessed directly, manipulation of the system is best
left for those times when the bike is not moving.
This is one reason why AKE offers the optional remote control
component, which in fact is a feature that webBikeWorld has
previously identified as desirable for functional and safety
Volume control is good and unless I'm riding in an extremely
noisy environment, audio remains clear. Neither module has the
output that the
Sena SMH10 (review),
Scala Rider G4 (review) or the
F4 Interphone (review)
units are capable of, but this is not totally unexpected given
overall design, power output, etc.
With the HTC Touch or Kyocera connected and music streamed,
the quality of the stereo headset is very evident. I mounted
the headset into my
Nolan N-103 (review) for some ad-hoc audio comparison purposes
and I got what I expected; that is, superb audio that rivals
the Sena SMH10 headset.
As configured from the mobile device, all standard functions
are supported by the headset including automatic answering.
If manual intervention is needed, a quick push of the Multifunction
button will instantly transfer the audio to the helmet, with
any ongoing stereo music streaming interrupted.
Another quick push ends the call, although it is still better
to let the other party end the call. A longer push (two seconds)
of the button rejects incoming calls. The 201 headset never
fails to resume the stereo stream either from the HTC Touch,
the Kyocera or the zumo devices.
Battery Life and Charging
Efficiency of the system is demonstrated by very good battery
life. I get about 3.5 hours of use when streaming music with
the odd interruption from the navigation goddess and about 5-6
hours if I'm just using the intercom intermittently and using
audio navigation audio.
Recharging the AKE 200 intercom units is simple, using the
coaxial to USB cable and/or the AC/DC adapter. Although not
documented in any of the Operating and User Instructions, the
systems do trickle charge when using only the USB connection.
Faster charging is accomplished by using the AC/DC adapter module.
Two complete intercoms: The contents of the AKE Stealth
Bluetooth Intercom 200 set.
AKE Stealth 200 intercom, battery, speakers, microphone
and boom microphone.
Bluetooth Intercom 200
- Bottom Line Ratings
||Small components and
cables are individually sealed in small plastic
||Simple design successfully
executed to create a small, low profile system requiring
minimal user interaction.
||This is very tough
and very subjective call. Achieving the range and
performance demonstrated by the low-power intercom
is remarkable and everything works as advertised,
but the excitement is not here.
What really limits
the potential of this system is the single-function
201i headset. This is a very real and very important
limitation when compared to virtually all other
systems on the market.
||Despite its low power
output, the intercom is extremely effective. Overall
this approach reduces radiation (a good thing) and
increases use time (another good thing)
||As the base system,
the 201 and 201i modules do just what they are supposed
to do. The intercom capability is just between the
two headsets. Multi-user requirements would need
to be addressed via optional/additional components.
Input & Control
||Audio connections made
via Bluetooth are seamless and work as advertised.
Lacking an auxiliary audio connection, all audio
is via supported Bluetooth profiles, limiting multiple-device
connectivity to an extent. The AVRCP profile is
also missing in action.
This feature is not available, but should be.
Although achievable when using the optional external
Bluetooth audio distribution module, this would
be a simple but attractive feature to add to the
basic 201 and 201i combination.
||Audio priority, highest
to lowest is: mobile phone, navigation, intercom
||No matter which helmets
the systems were installed in, audio was crisp,
virtually noise free and maintained at useable levels
thanks to the booster circuitry. In the Nolan N-103
ear chamber, quality of the standard AKE headset
is on par with the Sena SMH10 system.
||While the sleek 201
module does not have all the multi-channel bells
and whistles found in newer-to-market systems, its
performance in this category is on par with anything
evaluated to date.
Once paired and even with lapses of two to three
weeks, it would always find and pair with a previous
connection. I canít say the same about some of the
newer brands of other intercom systems we've reviewed.
||There is no provision
for the use of in-ear (i.e., earbud) headsets. AKE
does have many options (alternate modules, higher
quality headsets and Bluetooth-based components)
that may be applicable to meet consumer requirements.
Good to Excellent
||Between its small size
and modularity, the system is very easy to install
either internally or externally and shaping the
module into a slight curve is a great design feature.
But when installed internally in the Arai helmets,
back or side, the module is obtrusive, requiring
a slow and uncomfortable removal of the helmet.
I know that many other helmets will be more accommodating.
control and the LEDs make getting up, running and
off to the races simple and fast. The operating
and installation instructions (note the ordering
in the title) are easy to understand. Some difficult
phrasing is evident in both the German and English
Good to Excellent
Simple controls = easy to use. Its "Stealth"
features are both facilitative and detractive.
If mounted externally, the module is readily
accessed but the recessed controls can be hard to
feel. When tucked away, the modules needs to be
pulled out slightly and activated, then tucked away
again. With practice it can be done while wearing
the helmet, before moving off, of course!
||The battery is lightweight
in size and capacity. System efficiencies are obviously
very good based on a typical duty cycle for the
supplied and replaceable 250mAh battery.
My averages identified earlier are a bit less
than claimed, but still acceptable. I wouldn't mind
a longer duty cycle, without having to spring for
the optional 1000mAh battery (although it would
make a great back-up).
||When fully charged,
the headsets perform as advertised. Other than one
intercom unit that had a short microphone flex cable
with a weak mini-connector (evident when checking
everything initially), nothing has broken during
use, including after moving them between multiple
||Replacement of a defective
cable was done within a week and support from the
AKE representative and Cohesive Technology has been
timely and very helpful. For North American consumers,
having an active U.S. partner is good.
||Unless more aggressive
pricing is available, at a converted price of $466
USD, the AKE Helmet Set 200 is not inexpensive,
particularly when compared to newer generation twin-set
Bluetooth intercom bundles that can be had for around
$380.00 USD or less.
The premium for AKE products can often be justified,
especially for their upper-tier systems, but in
this instance, itís a hard sell.
Even though the intercom components have a unique "Stealth"
size and the system provides discrete fitment options
not available for most Bluetooth helmet products,
only the 201 module has any versatility and the
secondary 201i module is nothing more than one half
of an intercom.
On the flip side however, if size and a discrete
installation are important, then value can be realized.
AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200: Specifications,
Ratings and Conformity
Module: Release 1.3
Bluetooth: Version 2.0
Profiles: The 201 Headset
has the Hands-Free and A2DP profiles. The 201i has the Headset
and Hands-Free profiles.
Range: 250 meters under
open field conditions (claimed).
3.75V, Capacity is 240 mAh. Charging time is a claimed two
hours. Continuous Duty Music Transmission is claimed up
to six hours. Navigation voice announcement claimed eight
hours. Standby claimed up to 72 hours. Note: Operating
times are dependent upon the system operating mode.
Power: Charger is 5V DC,
Helmet Microphone: Noise
compensated "Electret" close-talking capsule.
Helmet Loudspeaker: Two
32 Ohm. Output power is 0.2W (for each speaker). Frequency
range is 100 Hz to 10 Khz (standard)
Booster: Maximum output
power is 8 Ohm. Frequency range is 20 Hz to 20 Khz. Signal-to-Noise
is 105 dB
Warranty: Two years
Conformity and Standards
FCC Compliance Statement:
RF: Not identified.
CE Declaration of Conformity:
CE marked and declared compliant.
The equipment complies with the
new European ROHS guidelines.
I still have a
soft spot for AKE products and I still feel that their upper-tier
offerings are among the best on the market. But the basic Helmet
Set 200 system doesnít do everything I hoped.
It is unique in many positive ways and based on stated features,
performance is not lacking overall, especially from the intercom.
While supporting A2DP and thus stereo audio streaming, it is
a simple system but the other half of the system is nothing
more than an intercom module.
Bringing this already expensive Helmet Set 200 up to the
same level or beyond that of many other lower-priced systems
is totally viable, but the owner would have to purchase some
expensive optional components.
The chance to evaluate this type of product is always appreciated,
especially those that donít have a significant North American
presence, but being able to configure, assess and evaluate just
how good a system can really be is only possible if we have
access to the entire range of standard and optional components.
In this instance, the optional pieces from AKE were unfortunately
not provided, but they may have the potential to add some great
capabilities and therefore even more value to the overall system.
My thought is that the opportunity to evaluate the full range
of AKE products would be a good thing for everyone.
Related Reviews: AKE
BT Multi-Interphone |
| AKE PowerCom
INNOVA | AKE
Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Page |
Motorcycle Intercom Page |
2010 Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Comparison and Final Report
Product Review: AKE
Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200
AKE Electronics (Germany) or
Cohesive Technology (U.S.A.)
As listed on the AKE website, 389,00 Ä or $466.00
Silver, Black and Blue.
||Made In: Unknown
Date: June 2010. Evaluation Period: December
2009 to June 2010. Note: Product was
provided by the manufacturer for this review (more).
The webBikeWorld intercom evaluators always wear properly
fitted ear plugs while riding during the intercom evaluations and this is reflected
in thee opinions on sound quality and speaker volume. Your experience may
and probably will differ. Always wear high-quality, correctly fitted ear plugs
when riding a motorcycle (more
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